At Mass this week, we were asked to pray for the Fortnight of Freedom and invited to special masses and rosaries. In addition to prayers and to keep up with the times, the US Bishops created a slick marketing campaign to hype their Fortnight for Freedom with a logo and snappy domain name — Fortnight4Freedom.org — and the opportunity to save religious freedom by texting.
And, over the weekend, our Bishop wrote in the local paper inviting our participation: “This 14-day period can be a special time for prayer and commitment on behalf of our beloved country and in support of our God-given right, which no government has the authority to take from us. Let us pray in thanksgiving for our heritage of religious freedom, reflect on attempts to limit this most cherished liberty and have the courage to take positive action.”
Wow! Behold the power of marketing and political rhetoric. With a play from the Karl Rove book (think Swiftboating a decorated war veteran), the Bishops have branded their fight to eliminate access for birth control for women as a fight for freedom. In other words, freedom is defined by denying women access to reproductive healthcare.
Of course, phony freedom talk is the heart of all scare tactics surrounding universal health care. The healthcare debate has long been framed in terms of freedom. We are told that health care for everyone means socialism. It is an end to our freedom in making our own health care decisions. Let’s consider the “freedom of choice” of our current system:
- Ever had to skim a short list of the only doctors accepted by your insurance?
- Ever been denied medical care because you don’t have insurance?
- Ever worried about getting sick or injured outside of your network?
- Ever been told your insurance won’t cover your prescription?
- Ever been denied a medical procedure because insurance doesn’t cover it?
- Ever been told by an insurance company that your medical procedure or drug wasn’t medically necessary?
- Ever been told you must give birth a certain way or the insurance company won’t pay for it?
I could go on . . . but you get the idea. Is this freedom in health care?
Author, philosopher Slavoj Zizek states: “We feel free because we lack the language to articulate our unfreedom.” And, we lack such language because the powerful pervert our language — with slick marketing campaigns — to protect their power.
On the astonishing web site CatholicVote.org, the authors argue that Catholic doctrine dictates that health care be left to the corporate sector (yes, really!):
Catholic social teaching does not require ignoring economic principles. If private endeavors are more effective and more efficient than government, society may employ those means without neglecting its obligation to address basic human needs. In fact, there is ample evidence that government involvement in medicine leads to lower quality, less responsive, more expensive care.
In addition to corporate healthcare, CatholicVote.org has the audacity to suggest that Catholic teachings are consistent with lowering taxes. (Render unto Caesar?) One of the bloggers, American Papist, claims that Catholic teaching supports the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United — claiming that corporations are people. Is this a new interpretation for right to life?
CatholicVote.org is run and written by “a community of patriotic Americans who believe our nation’s founding principles are good and true, and worth fighting for.” While our faith may motivate our service to our communities and our country, we should not confuse faith in God with our faith in institutions or power structures.
The rally cry of the Fortnight for Freedom campaign — also marketed by CatholicVote.org — as we anticipate a (heavily Catholic) Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act illuminate the connections between conservative politics and the U.S. Bishops and serves as a reminder that the Bishops with all of their bluster about freedom and health care “mandates” are not motivated by Church doctrine, the words or teachings of Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. They pretend to argue for human dignity, but their allegiance to some conservative patriarchal political agenda honors only power — not humanity or dignity.